A pitcher just learning to play baseball starts with a fastball. They spray the ball with the catcher’s mitt as hard as they can, and then they get a taste of the curve. Unlike a fastball, you don”t need to exert much force. You just need to change your grip and bend your elbow a little. The batter swings wildly at the ball, which falls from 12 to 6 o”clock. The pitcher on the mound feels good and wants to throw more.
But did you know that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that curveballs shouldn’t be thrown until players are at least 14 years old, meaning they shouldn’t compete with fastballs until around their sophomore year of middle school. What about the slider, the most common changeup alongside the curve? It’s recommended that you start throwing it when you’re at least 16 years old. The reason is simple. It’s to protect the shoulders and elbows of young pitchers whose bones and muscles are still growing. Of course, it’s hard to follow these recommendations. In the heat of the moment, you need a changeup. So someone says “An adult should be in control”.
The most basic protection for amateur players is a pitch count limit and a ban on softballs. In the United States, amateur pitchers are prohibited from throwing more than 110 pitches per day and must take four days off if they throw between 91 and 110 pitches. For 31-50 pitches, it’s one day off, for 51-70 pitches, it’s two days off, and for 71-90 pitches, it’s three days off. They also prohibit pitching three days in a row.
South Korea is similar. The Korean Baseball and Softball Association rules state that pitch counts 1-45 have no mandatory rest days, 46-60 have 1 day, 61-75 have 2 days, 76-90 have 3 days, and 91+ have 4 days. There is no mandatory rest day for 44, so some high schools take advantage of this. For example, they throw up to 43 pitches the day before and 60 pitches the next day. The good news is that pitchers are not allowed to pitch three days in a row.
The recently concluded World Youth Baseball Championship (U18) also has a pitch count limit and rules regarding consecutive pitches. According to the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) website, there are no mandatory rest days for pitchers with 1-40 pitches, 1 day for 41-55 pitches, 2 days for 56-75 pitches, 3 days for 76-90 pitches, and 4 days for 91-105 pitches. When it comes to back-to-back fights, you can’t fight four days in a row.
However, if the total number of pitches thrown the day before and the day after exceeds 40, the athlete cannot pitch for three consecutive days. If a player throws more than 41 pitches in two days, the next day is always a mandatory rest day. Lee Young-bok, the national team’s head coach, dug into this point. It’s one of the reasons why Kim Taek-yeon (18), a third-year right-hander from Incheon High School, pitched five consecutive days (including the suspended game). Kim threw 21 pitches on Day 6, 19 pitches on Day 7, 16 pitches on Day 8, 24 pitches on Day 9, and 98 pitches in the bronze medal game against the United States on Day 10. He never threw more than 40 pitches on any two days combined except against the USA. Despite the strain on his shoulder, South Korea won the bronze medal after four years at the tournament. Coach Lee Young-bok said. “We just played according to the rules.”안전놀이터
Even though it was a short-term international competition and played according to local rules, the head coach of the national team was the head coach of a local high school (Chungam High School). It’s important for a coach to perform well, but he also has a duty to protect the young players. Lee Young-bok may have thought he had gotten around the three-day pitching ban by using a trick, but was he right? Kim Taek-yeon is the only player in the tournament who has pitched five days in a row.
If international tournament rules don’t protect young players, domestic tournament rules should. Let’s not sacrifice the future of baseball to the greed of adults, because the days of hard work are over.